God's love turned my life around - Pt 2
Having endured a heart-rending childhood with little to no stability based on the constant absence of her father, who had to work, and a mother who was an abuser of drugs, Pastor Sara Conner's story of how she came to know God and to later rise above her circumstances is the epitome of inspiration.
Introduced to and touched by the undiluted and independent love of God (John 3:16), 13-year-old Conner, who had run away, from home to attend a party miles away was ready to surrender.
"By this time, I was a partying, smoking, and carrying-on kind of girl, so when he (Andrew Keane of Church on the Rock) explained God loved me no matter what I had done, that resonated with me in a huge way. I had run away, I hurt my dad, I disrespected my stepmom, I resented my mom. I was happy on the outside but lost on the inside.
"I had no choice. The love of God was a magnet, and I yielded to Him. I gave my life that night. Pastors David and Denver Keane had a ministry called CARE Groups. My group leader, Yvonne Moore, and the youth pastor, Chris Parker, would have been the two greatest influences of my life at that time. Mrs Moore allowed my sister and me to live with her, where she discipled with me daily in prayer, reading the Bible, tithing, character, discipline for over two years," she recalled, adding that it was the unconditional love of God that she experienced at the church that propelled her to tell others about God and to share with others what had been shared with her.
LESSONS OF ADVERSITY
And using her adversities as a catapult to greatness and purpose, the woman of God answered her call to ministry.
"Adversity is the teacher you hate but need. I don't enjoy the facts of financially struggling at times, being sexually assaulted, losing my mother to a stabbing, running away and almost getting raped. I don't look back at the things that have happened to me or the dumb stuff I myself have got into with any sort of joy.
"Neither am I sad. What I am is wiser. Adverse situations can define or derail a person. It can destroy or decide. It can break or build, based on our response to it," she said.
The certified Christian counsellor and author of various devotionals told Family & Religion that adversity taught her to be compassionate and generous, to withhold judgment and forgo criticism, to give others a chance and a helping hand when possible because she had needed those very things when she faced tough times.
According to the pastor: "Adversity carved my resilience and forged my willpower. It is the friend that challenges me to be stronger and the mirror that reveals there is more in me than I thought possible. It is the resistance that causes the sails in the ship to go forward, and resistance allows the rocket to launch.
"Wherever there is greatness, there has been great resistance. I would have to say it catapulted me because I am called to help people, especially in the areas of faith, to win, faith to live, and faith to give. How could I have understood myself and my capacity if I never had adversity to teach me? I'm not fake. I understand when you cannot pay your bills. I get it when you're living in fear. I understand police raids, court issues, illness, hardship, rejection, isolation, anger, torment, and weakness. I also understand with God, adversity can introduce you to a part of [that] you that would have remained hidden, a stronger, more brilliant, more resilient you. It is a bridge I understand if walked over, will only lead to greater things ahead," she concluded.